Our Family

Our Family

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fabric Alphabet

*this post contains affiliate links

My enthusiasm for sewing is a lot greater than my skill.  But when I saw this cute Fabric Alphabet from All About Learning Press I thought, "Even I could make that!"  My 4 year old is starting to learn her letters and I really wanted something cute and hands on that she could use for the upper case alphabet ( we have a set of textured letters for the lower case alphabet.)

I spent $0 on this project.  I used scrap material that I had laying around, some quilt batting that I already had, a pencil, pins, scissors, thread, pinking shears, and a sewing machine.

You need two squares of fabric for each letter and a square of batting to put in between the squares.

First I printed out the alphabet template (find the template here )and cut out all the letters.  Then I cut the squares of fabric and batting pinning them together in layers.  Next I traced the letters onto the fabric and sewed on the lines.  I removed the pins and cut around the edges with the pinking shears.

I worked on this project 4 different days for a little over 30 minutes a day.  It was fun and easy and I think they turned out really cute!

*links in this post are my affiliate links.  I only form affiliate relationships with companies whose products I actually use and can recommend!!

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Funtastic Unit Studies

Funtastic Unit Studies Review

One of our latest reviews has been Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers from Funtastic Unit Studies.

Susan Kilbride, a homeschool mother with a degree in Biology wrote Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers using the methods she used when teaching her own son.  The book is designed to capture students interest and encourage a love of science and learning.  It uses a hands on approach with lots of activities that use common household items.

Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers is split up into two parts.  The first 10 chapters are for children in the 4-7 year old age range while the second 10 chapters are geared for children in the 8-13 year old age range.  The units do build on each other so the author's recommendation is to teach them in the order they are listed but she also says it is not absolutely necessary that you hold to that.  Topics covered include:

Ages 4-7:
Our Senses
The Human Body
Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life
Insects and Their Kin
Fun With Magnets
Stars and Planets
Beginning Plants
Animal Ecology

Ages 8-13
Microscopes and Invisible Creatures
Atoms and Molecules
Chemistry Fun
Force and Motion
Simple Machines
Light and Color
Plants II

Each section starts with a materials list.  Then the unit begins.  There are sections telling you what to tell your students and then different hands on activities for them to do.  The number of parts the lesson is split up into and the number of activities varies depending on the unit.  The units for the 8-13 year olds each have a test at the end of the unit and there is an answer key at the back of the book. Some of the units have video suggestions to go along with the unit.

I used Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers with my 4, 6, 8, and 9 year olds.  We worked on the Human Body Unit.  The Human Body unit is split up into 5 different parts:

The Digestive System
The Respiratory System
Circulatory System
Skeletal System
Nervous System

I split this study into 5 days working on one section per day.  There were two suggested videos to go along with the study that we were able to stream from Netflix.

My children love science and they love hands on activities.  I really liked the great variety of hands on activities for this unit and the others I read over.  We had to make a few adaptations to the activities because I did not have the exact supplies that were needed, but the basic idea stayed the same.  They had a good time learning about the 5 different systems were studied and watching the two recommended videos.

 There was not a whole lot of information included in the book, just a short paragraph or two for each section,  and no suggested books to go along with the study.  I did add in several  books that we had on the shelf to round it out a bit more.  Since we do have a big emphasis on science, many of the activities from the older units are ones that we have already done.  I think this book would be great for a new homeschooler, or one who really wants to do science but does not have a lot of time to get it in. It also makes a great jumping off place on a variety of interesting topics and is a great way to add in some hands on science activities.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Our Week in Review (July 27-Aug 1st)

It was a bit toasty in our house this week.  That may be a bit of an understatement, but it could have been worse.  We could've not had any electricity.  Even though our air was out we still had our ceiling fans and a small window unit upstairs.  Temperatures outside were over 100 every day, but inside we were between 86-90 for 5 long days until the correct part arrived and my amazing husband got it fixed!

Monday morning we had archery.  This week at archery we played some archery games.  They played a few different games with popping balloons, Tic Tac Toe, Horse, and Cootie.  They had a lot of fun!

After archery we did some shopping taking advantage of the air conditioning and the back to school sales on school supplies at Walmart.

Tuesday we were at home all day.  It was a LONG day!   In the afternoon the girls and I went to the coolest spot in the house, the upstairs hallway and put a movie on the computer.  Miss Emelia fell asleep and took a 2 hour nap.  I can't remember the last time she took a nap!

A friend texted me and asked if I wanted to check out the new Dino Dig with her and her children that is not far from my house Wednesday morning.  So I packed some pb&j sandwiches, juice boxes, gogurts and goldfish for lunch and off we went.

They put an indoor sandbox in half of a pawn shop and put in some dinosaur statues.  Your admission allows you to stay as long as you want and each child gets a baggie when they walk in the door.  They fill that bag with rocks that they can take home with them.  We stayed a little over 2 hours and the children had a blast!  The admission was $8 per child.

Lillian's rocks photo by Lillian

They had a gift shop too but I have to say the prices were outrageous.  More so than your typical gift shop.  Instead of buying anything there I took the children to Dollar Tree.

Anthony's Dollar Tree dinosaur

We ate our lunch in the van and headed to 4 H.  They were having a photography workshop.  Anthony loves photography and taking pictures.  We learned about tips and tricks to make our photographs better and had an opportunity to go out and take a few pictures.

 A few photos by Anthony

Wednesday night the air was fixed!  Thursday we stayed home and enjoyed it!
The children were quite proud of this watermelon we grew!

Friday Anna had to go for shots.  The girls love going places with me and they especially love the vet. Alex came too to help me with the dog in the van.  She has a tendency to get car sick so I was very glad when she did not!  She was a good girl and got a doggie treat when we got home.

We only "did school" 2 days this week.  We completed three stops in our Egypt history study from Home School in the Woods.  Anthony and Christian completed Lesson 31 in AAR Level 2.  Nick is still working on the introductory lessons in When Worlds Collide.  He will start reading the first book next week.  Since Alex did not have anything specific to do during school time, I gave him The Archaeology Book from Master Books to start reading through.  Lillian completed two lessons in First Start Reading.

I am really enjoying Horizons Preschool with Emelia.  She loves the worksheets, crafts, and the little songs that we sing.  It is great to have some one on one school time with her too.

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: Christian History: Biographies of Faith

Master Books is well known for their Creation based science books.  Now they are offering full curriculum sets for grades 4-12 (and also Pre-K), and individual subject sets.  I recently had an opportunity to use and review the Christian History: Biographies of Faith Curriculum Pack which is part of the 8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Set.

In this study, students will study the lives of great US Presidents and Christian reformers to discover their influences, struggles, accomplishments, and how they were transformed by their faith, moral values, and pure courage.  The suggested schedule is to work on this over the course of one year (36 weeks) for 30-45 minutes per day 5 days per week.  The course is recommended for students in grades 7-9 to earn one credit in history.

Christian History: Biographies of Faith Curriculum Pack can be purchased for $75.44 and includes:

Life of John Newton
Life of Washington
Life of Andrew Jackson
Life of John Knox
Life of Luthor
Parent Lesson Planner.

Each of the books are beautiful, hardcover editions.  The Life of Washington is 295 pages long.  It was originally published in 1842 by ASSU and was written by Anna C. Reed, a niece of a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  The Life of Andrew Jackson is 395 pages long and is written by John S Jenkins, an American author who wrote historical biographies.  The Life of Luther is 496 pages long and was originally published in 1850 by ASSU.  It is written by Barnas Sears who served in areas of education and pastoral ministries.  The Life of John Knox was originally published by the ASSU in 1833, and is 140 pages long.  The Life of John Newton was originally published in 1831 and is 144 pages long.

The Parent Lesson Planner is a paperback 189 page book with perforated 3 hole punched pages. In it you will find a suggested schedule for completing the course in 36 weeks, worksheets, quizzes, test, and answer keys.  Each of the worksheets contain vocabulary words to define, short answer questions, long answer questions, and activities.  The activities vary and will require some additional research and reading to complete.  The quizzes have vocabulary questions, short answer, and long answer questions and the tests have vocabulary and long answer questions.

I love books.  When I received this set my first thought was how beautiful the books were!  And they really are and will last a long, long time.  At this time in history when textbooks are being rewritten to become politically correct or just better suit those with whatever agenda happens to be on the table, it is important for us to go back and look at history from a different view point.  Even in texts that are well written and historically accurate, we often just get snippets of important historical figures such as what battles they won and what important things happened in their lifetime.  We are not able to see details about their character, morals, fears, courage, or faith. Biographies are a great way to take a deeper look.  Through the course of this curriculum, students will get that deeper look into the lives of some great men who made a big impact on history.  They will see what qualities made them great leaders and will also be examples for them to learn by.  We will see them live their faith and overcome in many difficult circumstances.  And rather than trying to memorize a bunch of dates and places, students will enjoy reading about the lives of these men.  The stories themselves are captivating.

The Parent Lesson Planner is a great tool to guide you in this course.  It is set up for 5 days a week, but that can easily be adjusted according to your needs or your students.  The books were written in the 1800's so the vocabulary is more challenging than modern books (and please don't think I am mentioning that as a negative because I think it is a positive.)  I could easily make adjustments to the schedule to work only 3 days a week.  The worksheets in the PLP will ensure that your child is actively reading.  The questions are thought provoking and require your child to dig deeper to answer.  The vocabulary questions will help improve reading comprehension.  The optional activities are varied and you can pick and choose which ones will suit your child.  Most involve internet research,but there are also things like  mapping and Bible reading. I really like that the quiz and test questions are not multiple choice and require the students to put thought into their answers.  Photocopying is allowed for use within your family which is another big plus for me.  The answer key is in the same booklet as the worksheets, but they can be easily removed and stored in a notebook.

Once again I am greatly impressed with Master Books and their subject sets.  Stop by the website and see the great curriculum offerings that are available.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of these books for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

Schoolhouse Crew Review: With Lee in Virginia

We were excited to have an opportunity to review the latest release from Heirloom Audio Productions, With Lee in Virginia.

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review
Heirloom Audio Productions is passionate about bringing real history to life.  Their active listening audio dramas are fast paced and uses many different types of sound effects and music to transport the listener back in time and immerse them in the story.  There are 3 different audio dramas at the time of this writing: With Lee in Virginia, In Freedom's Cause, and Under Drake's Flag.  

With Lee in Virginia is based on the book With Lee in Virginia by G.A. Henty.  It is geared for ages 6-adult.  There are some intense moments in the story, but it is not bloody or gory and I had no problems with my 4 year old listening as well.  The story is around 2 1/2 hours long and is split up into 2 separate CDs.  It is narrated by Brian Blessed and other names that may be familiar to you include: Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings, Rudy, Mom's Night Out) as Gen Jeb Stuart, Kirk Cameron (Fireproof, Monumental, Left Behind) as Gen Johnston, Chris Anthony (Adventures in Odyssey) as Mary Lee, Kelsey Lansdowne (Curious George, Batman Arkham Origins) as Lucy Kingston, and many more.

Fifteen year old Vincent Wingfield lives on a southern plantation.  One moment he is helping a slave escape north to freedom after being mistreated by his master and the next he has joined the cavalry of the army of Northern Virginia and is soon fighting alongside some of the most famous Confederate generals.  Vincent is very inspired by General Lee's devotion to God and his sense of duty and his heroic actions could cost him his life.
There are several options for purchasing With Lee in Virginia. There is an mp3 download option for $19.97 and comes with a study guide and a downloadable copy of a quote by Robert E. Lee.  Or you can purchase the physical CD set for $29.97 that includes the following bonuses: downloadable study guide, printable quote by General Lee, and the mp3 soundtrack.  Or you can purchase a 4 pack for $99.97 that includes the same bonuses as the single CD set plus unlimited access to the Live the Adventure newsletter, G.A Henty's With Lee in Virginia ebook, and a With Lee in Virginia poster.

The Downloadable Study Guide is a great way to expand on the lessons children learned by listening to the audio drama.  The guide is divided into 3 different sections:

Listening Well- Asks questions about what your child heard 

Thinking Further- Digs a little deeper.  Children may need to look up answers or speculate or draw conclusions about characters intentions or actions.

Defining Words- Vocabulary words that children need to define

There is a set of questions for each track on the CD. The guide also contains information on G.A. Henty, General Lee, and General Stonewall Jackson.  At the end of the guide there is a recommended reading list for further study and two different Bible studies.  There is also a section on sectionalism and slavery in the Bible.

I was excited to have the opportunity to review With Lee in Virginia because we loved the other two audio dramas from this company.  We listened to it on our way to and from the museum one day (a little over an hour drive each way.)  My children 13,11,10,8,6, and 4 were all in the vehicle with me and audiobooks can be a great way to pass the time while driving.  It was fantastic!  I loved the characters, and especially the music and sound effects.  The narrator is fantastic!  With Lee in Virginia tells a great story of a difficult time in America's history and has a great message for us all.  It is my favorite of the three audio dramas from Heirloom Audio Productions and we will be listening to it again when we study the Civil War later on this year.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: A Heart's Home by Colleen Coble

Book Description "This Christmas, a tragic loss at Fort Laramie ushers in hope and healing. When a young mother dies after giving birth at Fort Laramie, Emmie Croftner is shaken by the death of her dear friend-and reminded of the dangers of childbirth. She won't be able to hide her own pregnancy much longer. She's dreading the day that Isaac Liddle, the handsome soldier she adores, discovers her secret. Then the young infant's father offers a solution: Emmie should marry him so the child can have a family. With the Sioux Wars threatening soldier and civilian alike, a ready-made family could be the answer to Emmie's prayers for safety. But at what cost to her heart-and Isaac's?"

A Heart's Home is the 6th and final book in the Journey of the Heart series.  Each book in this series are short at just over 100 pages each.  The first 3 books in the series focus on Rand and Sarah while the last 3 books focus on Emmie and Isaac.  Jake and Amelia are other main characters that appear in all of the books.

A Heart's Home being the last book in the series is supposed to tie everything together and bring resolution to the different conflicts.  Throughout the last three books dealing with Emmie, we find out she has a secret and she has this fear of what will happen when Isaac finds out.  I was expecting a big moment when this issue was resolved, but there wasn't one.  Also, in Book Five we are told that a character that we thought had died in an earlier book did not so I expected he would return for Book 6, but he does not.  He is mentioned in the Epilogue.

Overall Journey of the Heart was an enjoyable series to read.  I liked the characters and these short little books were packed full of action, adventure, faith, and romance.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Our Week in Review (July 20-25)

Monday was blazing hot.  We did have archery although we only shot for an hour while we still had a pretty good amount of shade.  I am quite impressed with how well the boys are shooting and how much they have improved since we started.  Tuesday and Wednesday were just ordinary days that didn't have anything exciting going on.  Thursday we had our July 4 H Meeting.  The children seemed to enjoy the activities that I prepared.

Friday we cleaned house and had pizza and a movie.  After the movie the children wanted to swim.  When we came in from swimming Art walked past our thermostat and noticed the temperature in the house was 4 degrees above what it was supposed to be.  The fan motor on our A/C unit is broken! The part is ordered but it will be a few days until it can be fixed.  Until then I am very thankful for ceiling fans!!! And that we had a window A/C unit that we used for camping that is keeping upstairs fairly cool.  It's been around 100 outside and we are holding around 86 degrees in the house.  We will be grilling, using the crockpot or eating sandwiches this week!

Saturday was Anthony's birthday!  My sweet boy is 10 years old!  For his birthday he wanted to decorate his own cupcakes. I got up before 6 Saturday morning to bake them (before it got too hot) and then he decorated them with red and white frosting and sprinkles and arranged them in an Avengers sign.

I was babysitting for a friend on Saturday.  My children loved having company over and they asked if we could keep the baby.  They have missed having a baby in the house.

They enjoyed cupcakes with us but I did not give any to the baby :)

For his birthday supper Anthony asked for Pizza Hut so the girls and I drove to town and picked up pizza.  He loved his gifts and said it was the best day of the year!

We picked some cantaloupe from our garden this week.  It was really good!

In our homeschool this week we completed stops 16 and 17 in Passport Ancient Egypt.  In AAR Level 2 Christian and Anthony completed Lessons 29 and 30.  I have set up an award system for them to encourage them to read more on their own in their spare time.  Also, I put a new ebook on their Kindle along with the audible version and with that immersion reading it highlights the words in the ebook while the audiobook is being read.  I think that is fantastic and need to get them some earbuds so they can listen to those at night.

Lillian finished her study on the human body and is working on First Start Reading.

Emelia only had two days of Horizons preschool this week.  One day she was just too cranky in the afternoon to do school (she had fallen down and hurt herself and she just really wanted to snuggle and watch a show), and the other day I was too tired after the 4 h meeting and errands.

Nick started working on a new review of Sharon Watson's new literature curriculum, When Worlds Collide.

I hope you had a great week in your homeschool!